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Film Dean Susan Ruskin to leave UNCSA for position at American Film Institute

Susan Ruskin, Dean of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking, has accepted a position at the American Film Institute (AFI) and will step down August 16, Chancellor Lindsay Bierman has announced. She will be Dean of AFI Conservatory and Executive Vice President of the Institute.

“I’m incredibly proud of Dean Ruskin’s accomplishments during her tenure at UNCSA,” Bierman said. “An accomplished filmmaker, she has proven herself to be a gifted educator and a strong administrator during the past decade at our school. Her leadership and vision will be sorely missed.”

Ruskin said, “It is with a heavy heart that I leave UNCSA, but I know that the faculty, staff, students and alumni are the heartbeat of what makes this institution work no matter who holds the position of the Dean. I am extremely grateful for the years of inspired collaboration and I am proud to know the School of Filmmaking will thrive in the future.”

Ruskin joined the faculty of the School of Filmmaking in 2009 and became head of the producing faculty. She served as Interim Dean in 2012, and became Dean in 2013.

With Ruskin’s leadership, the film school has become a leader in new storytelling technology with the founding of the Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL) and its first ever Future of Reality Summit, featuring national leaders in immersive media. She also oversaw the completion of the 30,000-square-foot New Media Building, which is home to the animation and production design departments and includes technology and equipment for animation, gaming, digital design, immersive films and visual effects. In addition, Ruskin led the creation of the film school’s new M.F.A. programs in Creative Producing and Screenwriting, which aim to prepare students for changes in the industry and develop a pipeline of diverse storytellers and content creators.

“These innovations under Dean Ruskin have propelled the school forward and cemented its reputation as one of the world’s top film schools,” Bierman said, adding “The school is well-positioned to build on those successes under new leadership.”

Other highlights of Ruskin’s tenure include completing a deal with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner to shoot parts of his feature film “Are You Here” on campus, with students working on that film; developing a relationship with the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, making UNCSA an official partner of the Sundance Institute; bringing top-tier filmmakers on board as faculty members and guest artists, and engaging alumni to share their work and their experiences with students.

An Interim Dean will be announced in the coming weeks, and a national search will be launched for the next dean.

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